Ben Buchwalter

More on Stimulus
January 29, 2009, 12:55 pm
Filed under: 2010 and 2012, Barack Obama, Economy, Republicans | Tags: ,

Jonathan Stein points out the three steps President Obama took to present the economic stimulus bill in a bipartisan light. He did this by 

(1) fashioning roughly 1/3 of the package out of tax cuts, which the GOP loves; (2) going to the House Republican caucus and asking for their input; and (3) pulling provisions from the bill that Republicans didn’t like (see previous post). House Republicans acknowledged all of this,thanked the President, talked smack about the House Democrats, and voted against the bill anyway.

He then asks, “So what does Obama do now?”

Obama needs to begin playing to win. Bipartisanship is a laudable goal. But when one side refuses to engage for its own political benefit, the goal becomes pointless as the other side repeatedly sacrifices without benefit. 

Ruthlessly opposing Obama’s agenda will benefit Republicans if Democrats don’t fight back. Yglesias writes that the GOP did this in 1993-1994 and was rewarded with a huge electoral victory to take back Congress in 1994. The Democrats, on the other hand, played dead while in the minority between 2001-2002. And they were crushed once again in the 2002 midterms. 

Obama’s popularity remains upwards of 70%. He needs to use that strength to push through a progressive agenda. He should not work too hard to gain Republican favor; they’ve already proven they are not interested in collaboration. If Obama remains strong, then the GOP’s political calculation could shift from all-out opposition to Obama’s agenda to an effort to align with the overwhelmingly popular President.


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